What is being a Mochica woman filmmaker in Peru?

It took me quite a few years to be aware of the strong women heritage that I carry in my blood and this was because I never actually questioned it myself. Did it really matter to know about my ancestors or my history? For many years I thought that history was something that should stay in the past and there was nothing useful that we can take from it nowadays. But how true was that?

When I used to be an Architect, I used to wonder how did I end up living like this? With no caring for anyone, with no free time and the worst, with zero caring about my feelings or emotions. 

A few years ago I discovered that my surname Yarlequé came from the stunning pre-columbian culture ´Mochica . Mochica was a culture that was running from 200-600AC in the north coast of Peru and they were one of the most developed cultures during those days in the field of art and pottery, especially those about sex, yes! As you read it! But this was not just about sex, behind all this knowledge, they really meant deeper connections than just this, fertility and human interactions with the universe were something really important for them to live in harmony. Also a lot of their buildings and rituals were in relationship with the moon, the sun, the ocean and a lot of community support. 

And there I was, questioning myself that if this was something from my ancestors’ way of living for hundreds of years, how would I have ended up living a miserable life? Many hundreds of years of knowledge and I knew nothing about them! 

In the meantime while I was having all these discoveries about my ancestors, I finally started doing some changes and for some years I tried other jobs that were taking me to make the final decision. 5 years ago I dropped everything and I started breathing and learning from every single day about myself instead. This led me to try to be more in the present than in the past or future, this also led me to understand that more important than impressing the outside I had to focus of my inside and I discovered that there is a unique connection with the universe that helped me to understand all this that makes my world to a different place. I probably won’t ever be able to explain all this by words but I understand now that each action with intention is a powerful thing, for good or bad but it is. So it really matters what our focus is in life and the intentions with it.

While I was getting all this understanding, I wanted to know more and I searched for the role of women in the Mochica culture. I found out that women had as equal and important roles in society as men, but without doing the same thing, for example a Healer woman was an important role as a warrior man! But in many ways the eyes of Archeologists are still so poor and limited to see this further than their academic knowledges because to understand this, you really need to understand the cosmovisions and beliefs of these cultures in deep. 

In recent years there were a lot of important mummies of women found in the north coast of Peru as a material proof that they existed! However Archeologists still name them with secondary roles when the reality is different from how we see the world right now and these were not just Mochicas but also all the cultures and societies after them until the Incas time but nobody talks about them!

Mochicas were reorganized a few years after they almost disappeared and then became a new culture called Lambayeque,  then these ones were conquered by Chimus, then they at the same time were conquered by the Incas and at the end they all were conquered by Spanish. So it is a whole chain of different knowledges and beliefs that of course after the Spanish, they were assure that we don’t ask questions from our history anymore and just follow their rules and religion. 

We are now in the year 2023 and I know that there is a lot more to dig on from my history to understand things that can keep helping me to live in a better way and therefore one of my motivations in life and as a documentary filmmaker and as a woman has become to show what we have really missed from all these disconnections with the universe, the world and at the same time with each other as human beings. 

On this women’s day I really want to highlight the role of women in society and families as it has always been from hundreds of years in different cultures, I am sure not only from Peru but in many indigenous communities around the world, because women we are not being empowered, we are being RE-empowered. We have had the power already for hundreds of years and having a balanced role with men is the challenge! 

Women’s day is a day that reminds me of the equality that women and men have and I am so happy to keep pushing on this! Happy Women’s day!

Ps: A few of the pictures here were taken during the festival of the water with Mochica descendants like me in November 2022

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